German MPs back Greek loan extension

The Bundestag approved the extension with 542 MPs voting in favour

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The Independent Online

Despite furious debate and public opposition, the German parliament reluctantly voted yesterday to extend Athens’ controversial bailout extension for an extra four months.

The Bundestag approved the extension with 542 MPs voting in favour, 32 against and 13 abstaining. Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative-led coalition insisted that the measure did not amount to another big taxpayers’ handout for Athens.

“We are not talking about new billions, rather it’s about granting extra time to successfully end this programme,” argued Germany’s veteran Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. “We Germans should do everything to keep Europe together.”

But growing unease over Greece among voters and within Ms Merkel’s conservative party was voiced by the Christian Democrat MP Klaus-Peter Willsch who attacked the Greek Prime Minister and his Finance Minister by asking: “Would you buy a used car from these people?”

More than two-thirds of German voters have said they are opposed to more bailouts for Greece. The mass circulation Bild newspaper reflected the mood by telling its readers on Thursday: “No more billions for greedy Greeks” and emphasised its stance with the banner headline: “Nein! Nein! Nein!”